Miguel Delibes died on March 12, 2010, at the age of 89, and his burning chapel, installed in the Valladolid City Hall, received the visit of thousands of people
This Saturday, October 17, 2020, the writer Miguel Delibes would have turned 100 years old, a centennial that has been conditioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite which initiatives and activities to commemorate have taken place in recent months the birth of the author of ‘El Hereje’ or ‘Los Santos Inocentes’.
Miguel Delibes Setién was born in a house located at number 12 of the Aproach Recoletos in Valladolid on October 17, 1920. Third of eight siblings, he studied Primary at the Carmelite Sisters and Baccalaureate at the Lourdes School, which he concluded in 1936.
The outbreak of the Civil War coincided with his entering the School of Commerce and his training in modeling and drawing at the School of Arts and Crafts. Two years later and before the imminence of his mobilization in the war, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Navy.
After the war, he returned to Valladolid and completed his studies in Commerce, after which he began to train in Law. On October 10, 1941 he began working as a cartoonist for the newspaper El Norte de Castilla and in 1942 he published his first newspaper article, ‘The sport of big game’.
In 1945 he won the competitive examinations for the Commercial Law Chair at the Valladolid School of Commerce and began teaching and practicing journalism at the same time.
On April 23, 1946 he married Ángeles de Castro and in February 47, the first of the couple’s seven children, Miguel, will be born. That year he also finished writing his first novel, ‘The shadow of the cypress is elongated’, with which in January 1948 he would win the Nadal Prize.
PROBLEMS WITH CENSORSHIP
His second novel, ‘Still is by day’ was published in 1949 despite the numerous cuts to which the censorship subjected it, which also withdrew a history manual written by Delibes for his classes as the new professor of History of the School trade.
In 1950 he had to rest for a hint of tuberculosis that was followed by the birth of his fourth daughter, Elisa. In December Miguel Delibes published his third novel, ‘El camino’, with which he achieved his literary consecration. The next one, ‘My idolized son Sisí’, would go on sale in July 1953, while in 1954 his first collection of short stories, ‘The game’ appeared.
‘Diario de un cazador’, a novel that he began to write that year and published in 1955, earned him the National Prize for Literature. This novel would have as a sequel ‘Diario de un emigrante’, which together with the travel book ‘A novelist discovers America (Chile in the eye of another)’, would be born as a result of a visit to the Andean country invited by the Circle of Journalists of Santiago From Chile.
In 1957 he published ‘Siestas con viento sur’, awarded the Fastenrath Prize by the Royal Spanish Academy. That year a novel by the author, specifically ‘El camino’, was translated into Portuguese for the first time.
Between 1958 and 1966 he directed El Norte de Castilla –after his resignation in 1963 due to his confrontations with the Minister of Information and Tourism Manuel Fraga continued as shadow director– and in 1959 he published, thanks to a grant from the March Foundation, his seventh novel, ‘The Red Leaf’.
In 1960 he published a book of rural chronicles with engravings by Jaume Pla entitled ‘Castilla’, of which only 150 copies are published. This text would be reissued four years later under the title ‘Viejas Histories de Castilla la Vieja’, while ‘El camino’ was published in the United States, with 18 illustrations by the author.
Faced with the prevailing censorship, Miguel Delibes opted for literature to denounce the situation of abandonment of the rural environment in ‘Las ratas’, recognized in 1962 with the Prize of the Spanish Association of Literary Critics. That year he was a father for the seventh and last time. From the hand of Ana Mariscal, ‘El Camino’ was taken to the cinema.
In 1963 he published his first hunting book, ‘The hunting of the red partridge’ and his third volume of traveling chronicles, ‘Europe: stop and inn’, in which he collects his trips to Italy, Portugal, Germany and France. A year later, he moved to the United States for six months to work as a visiting professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Maryland, from which his book ‘USA and I’ would appear in 1966.
Delibes participated in 1965 in the Spanish dubbing of the film ‘Doctor Zhivago’, by British director David Lean. A year later he would publish one of his most famous works, ‘Cinco horas con Mario’.
Invited by the Universities of Prague and Brno, Miguel Delibes visited Czechoslovakia just a few months before the Soviet Union aborted the Prague Spring, a title that he would give to a book of chronicles previously collected in Triumph magazine, in which the writer tells their experiences in that country. When the book is in print, the Russian invasion takes place that Delibes confirms and condemns.
On February 1, 1973, he was elected a member of the Royal Spanish Academy to occupy the ‘e’ chair, vacant due to the death of the historian Julio Guillén. In December he also became a member of the Hispanic Society of America and published “The Dethroned Prince.”
On November 22, 1974, his wife, Ángeles, passed away at age 50, an absence that marked the life of the writer. That same year, TVE presented the television adaptation of ‘La mortaja’ at the Montecarlo Festival, which, however, was not broadcast in Spain until 1993.
Antonio Giménez-Rico brought the novel ‘My idolized son Sisí’ to the cinema in 1976, although with the title of ‘Family portrait’, which was followed, in 1977, by the adaptation of ‘The dethroned prince’, directed by Antonio Mercero and renamed ‘La guerra de papa’, while Josefina Molina made a television series of five chapters on ‘El camino’ that was awarded at the Prague Festival.
In November 1978 he published ‘The disputed vote of Señor Cayo’ while a year later the theatrical adaptation of ‘Cinco horas con Mario’ was premiered at the Marquina Theater in Madrid. Also in 1979 his narrative texts were collected in ‘Castilla, lo castellano y los castellanos’.
‘THE INNOCENT SAINTS’
In 1981 he published his famous novel ‘Los santos inocentes’, made into a film by Mario Camus in 1984 and with which Alfredo Landa and Francisco Rabal would share the award for best actor at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1982 he received the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, which he would share with Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, and two years later, the Castilla y León Award for Literature.
The French Government granted him in December 1985 the title of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. A year later, Valladolid would recognize him as the Favorite Son of the city and in 1991 the Ministry of Culture would award him the National Prize for Spanish Letters.
In 1993 he would receive the Golden Spike of the Valladolid International Film Week (Seminci), as well as the Cervantes Prize, which would be awarded to him in April of the following year.
The Valladolid Press Association awarded in 1997 the First Prize for Journalism that bears his name. A year later he had to undergo surgery for cancer and published his latest novel, ‘The Heretic’, which would deserve the National Narrative Prize the following year.
His latest book, ‘The Wounded Earth (What world will our children inherit?)’, Would see the light in 2005, a year before the General Society of Authors of Spain (SGAE) proposed him as a candidate for the Nobel Prize together with Francisco Ayala and Ernesto Sábato.
Miguel Delibes died on March 12, 2010, at the age of 89, and his burning chapel, installed in the Valladolid City Hall, was visited by thousands of people. His remains rest in the Pantheon of Illustrious Men of Valladolid, along with other personalities from the literature of his city such as José Zorrilla or Rosa Chacel.